• Bridging the Divide with Susan Rice

    Air Dates: December 9-15, 2019

    Politics, it’s often said, is a tough game.  But lost in the back and forth over policies are the lives of public servants who pay a very real toll for their service.  Ambassador Susan Rice knows that experience better than most.

    Rice served as the U.S. National Security Advisor under President Barak Obama from 2013 to 2017.  She was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2009, serving until 2013.  Rice was a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution from 2002 to 2009, where she focused on U.S. foreign policy, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security.  She also served on the National Security Council and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Bill Clinton’s second term.  After serving as National Security Advisor, Rice joined American University as a distinguished visiting research fellow in the School of International Service.

    On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” co-host Jim Ludes asks Rice if she considers the divisiveness in American politics a liability to national security.  “It’s huge,” Rice said, calling it “our greatest national security vulnerability right now.”  She says our adversaries clearly recognize these divisions and understand that they can weaken us by leveraging these divisions through the media, “[setting] Americans against one another and cause us to hate and distrust each other more than ever.”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • The Cost of Child Poverty with Lenette Azzi-Lessing

    Air Dates: December 2-8, 2019

    For generations, American politicians have promised reducing—or even eliminating—poverty as one of their goals.  In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson went so far as to declare an “unconditional war” on poverty.  Lenette Azzi-Lessing warns, however, that the rhetoric of fighting poverty has become a war on the poor with devastating consequences for America’s most vulnerable children.

    Azzi-Lessing is Clinical Professor of Social Work at Boston University and author of “Behind from the Start: How America’s War on the Poor is Harming Our Most Vulnerable Children.” She founded the nationally recognized Rhode Island Center for Children At-Risk, now named Children’s Friend, in 1989 to address the social service and behavioral health needs of highly vulnerable young children and their families.  Azzi-Lessing is a member of the Child Welfare League of America’s National Joint Commission, she has co-chaired the League’s Committee on Prevention, Protection, and Family Preservation, and has been an expert witness in federal court on behalf of children abused and neglected in the child protective system.  In 2017, Azzi-Lessing was named a Fulbright Specialist focused on higher education and training in nations across the globe.  She also helped develop Graduate Certificate Programs in Early Childhood Development and Family Support in South Africa with colleagues from the University of Fort Hare, East London, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.

    On this week’s episode, Azzi-Lessing covers the social and financial costs of poverty, referencing a recent report by a special task force created by the National Academics of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. It posed the question: “what would it take to cut child poverty in the United States in half in a ten-year period?” She says, “the numbers aren’t low, it would cost 90 to 100 billion dollars, but 100 billion dollars is only 10 percent of the trillion dollars a year that child poverty costs us [annually].”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • Blood Libel in an American Town: Antisemitism in the United States with Edward Berenson

    Air Dates: November 25-December 1, 2019

    On September 22, 1928, a four-year-old girl named Barbara Griffiths disappeared in the woods near the small town of Massena, New York.  At some point in the panicked search that followed, someone speculated that the child may have been murdered by a Jewish resident of the community in a ritual sacrifice.  This was blood libel, a well-documented antisemitic slander common in Europe but new to the United States. Edward Berenson details the case and places it in historical and contemporary context. 

    Edward Berenson is professor of history and chair of the history department at New York University (NYU).  Before he began teaching at NYU in 1998, he taught for many years at UCLA.  Berenson is the author or editor of eight books on 19th and 20th-century French, British, and U.S. history, two of which have been translated into French.  In 1999, he received the American Historical Association’s Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2006 he was decorated by former French president Jacques Chirac as “Chevalier dans l’Ordre de Merit.”  He has published op-eds in the New York Times and in leading French papers, and comments on American politics and public life for the French media.  His most recent book, “The Accusation: Blood Libel in an American Town,” covers the investigation of America’s only alleged case of blood libel, and what it reveals about antisemitism in the United States and Europe.

    On this week’s episode, Berenson describes the parallel between today’s media and the Massena-area newspapers’ ability to spread rumors that fed the American blood libel accusation. While the blood libel accusation was quickly disproven, he acknowledges that today’s online media is capable of creating enclaves that can spread similar rumors and false information. Berenson says, “I don’t think we should be terrified, but it’s something we should be vigilant about.”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • A Tale of Four Worlds with Marina and David Ottaway

    Air Dates: November 18-24, 2019

    Almost a decade ago, protests swept across North Africa and the Middle East, toppling some authoritarian leaders and threatening others.  Marina and David Ottaway argue that the “Arab Spring”—as the uprisings are popularly known—splintered the Arab region into four worlds with vastly different outcomes, consequences, and prospects. 

    Marina and David Ottaway are fellows in the Middle East program at the Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. and coauthors of the new book, “A Tale of Four Worlds: The Arab Region After the Uprisings.”  Marina Ottaway joined the Wilson Center after 14 years at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, during which she played a central role in launching the Middle East Program there.  She is a long-time analyst of political transformations in Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East, and is currently working on a Wilson Center project on the countries of the Arab Spring and Iraq.  She has conducted research in Africa and in the Middle East and has taught at Georgetown University, the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, the American University in Cairo, the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, the University of Zambia, and Addis Ababa University.  David Ottaway worked for The Washington Post as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Africa and Southern Europe for 35 years.  He then worked as a national security and investigative reporter in Washington before retiring in 2006.  He has won numerous awards for his reporting and is a two-time finalist nominee for the Pulitzer Prize.  His most recent book, “The King’s Messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America’s Tangled Relationship with Saudi Arabia,” was published in November 2008.  He is currently writing a book on the changes underway in the Arab world.

    On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Marina Ottaway describes the Middle East landscape after the 2011 Arab Spring.  While there was no “blossoming of democracy in the air,” something had changed. Marina and David Ottaway illustrate those major regional changes in their latest book, “A Tale of Four Worlds,” named for the vastly different consequences of the uprisings in various areas across the region. 

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • Open Technological Innovation and Tomorrow’s Terrorists with Audrey Kurth Cronin

    Air Dates: November 11-17, 2019

    After Alfred Nobel developed dynamite, his invention reshaped the world—literally.  From mining to infrastructure projects, dynamite proved essential to the building of the modern world.  But it also changed political violence—both on battlefields and in the streets where the first wave of modern terrorists adopted the explosive as a weapon of choice.  Audrey Kurth Cronin says we have work to do to manage the new age of open technological innovation before it gets ahead of us with potentially destructive consequences. 

    Cronin’s career has combined academic positions and government service.  She joined the faculty of American University’s School of International Service in August 2016 and previously served as Director of the Center for Security Policy Studies, and Director of the International Security Program at George Mason University.  Before that, she was a faculty member and director of the core course on War and Statecraft at the U.S. National War College, after serving as Academic Director of Studies for the Oxford/Leverhulme Programme on the Changing Character of War at Nuffield College at Oxford University.  She was also the Specialist in Terrorism at the Congressional Research Service, advising Members of Congress in the aftermath of 9/11.  She has also served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy; the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and the American Embassy in Moscow.  Her latest book is “Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists,” which explores the risks and opportunities of 21st century emerging technologies.

    “On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Cronin discusses the challenges posed by the current era of open technological innovation. Co-host Jim Ludes asks how emerging technology has impacted the “mobilization of bad actors.” Cronin responds, saying technology has improved the ability for groups like ISIS to spread their message directly to recruit participants and collect their information.

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • “Story in the Public Square” will Debut Fourth National Season on Public Television January 6, 2020

    Newport, R.I. – The two-time Telly Award-winning series Story in the Public Square will continue to be broadcast across the United States with the debut of its fourth national season beginning January 6, 2020, the series announced on Tuesday. The show has been in production since January 2017 on SiriusXM Satellite Radio and in southeastern New England from its flagship TV station, Rhode Island PBS.  Story in the Public Square is currently seen in more than 80% of the nation’s public television markets.

    Hosted by Jim Ludes, Executive Director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, and G. Wayne Miller, Staff Writer at The Providence Journal, Story in the Public Square is a weekly 30-minute public television program that tries to make sense of the stories shaping public life in the United States and abroad.

    A partnership of the Pell Center and The Providence Journal, the program provides insights and perspectives into culture, politics and current national and international events from diverse storytellers of every variety and in any media—from acclaimed journalists, filmmakers, authors, photographers, scholars, activists, historians, musicians and more.

    “Each season brings intriguing new stories and exciting new storytellers,” said Ludes.  “In 2020, we’ll of course pay attention to the stories shaping presidential politics, but we’ll move beyond the headlines to examine the narratives that dominate public life in the United States, while we also shining a light on some under-considered stories as well.”

    “The success of Story in the Public Square has always been the result of great guests who captivate our audience with insights, humanity, and a remarkable ability to tell powerful stories,” said Miller.  “Our fourth national season will be no different.”

    The season will feature 26 episodes, including 24 new shows, debuting with Jamie Metzl and his depiction of the future of humanity in his groundbreaking book Hacking Darwin

    Story in the Public Square provides audiences the opportunity to hear compelling stories, and learn the story behind the stories in an accessible format where the hosts listen rather than lecture. The program offers a refreshing alternative to the standard news and public-affairs offerings. The show is produced by the Pell Center at Salve Regina University and presented by Rhode Island PBS via NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

    The audio version of the series is broadcast multiple times each weekend on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States) channel. Story in the Public Square won Telly Awards for excellence in general politics/commentary in 2018 and 2019.  The program is supported by weekly podcasts and Miller’s regular column for The Providence Journal.

    Story in the Public Square:

    On the Web: www.StoryInThePublicSquare.org

    On Twitter: @pubstory

    On Facebook: www.facebook.com/StoryInThePublicSquare/

    To learn more or to speak with Jim Ludes and G. Wayne Miller, please contact:

    Erin Barry, Communications Assistant

    Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy Salve Regina University

    401-341-7462

    [email protected]

    James M. Ludes, Ph.D., Salve Regina University

    Dr. James M. Ludes is Vice President for Public Research and Initiatives at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, as well as Executive Director of the university’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy. Ludes spent the first 18 years of his career in Washington, DC, most recently building a bipartisan think tank, the American Security Project, to educate the public on a broad range of national security issues. In addition, Ludes has been active at the intersection of politics and policy, having served as a member of the Obama-Biden transition team in the Pentagon, and serving as a national security advisor to then-Senator John Kerry from 2002 to 2006.

    G. Wayne Miller, The Providence Journal

    G. Wayne Miller is an award-winning Providence Journal staff writer. He is co-host and co-producer of the weekly Rhode Island PBS/SiriusXM Satellite Radio show Story in the Public Square. A filmmaker and author of 17 books—most recently “Kid Number One: Alan Hassenfeld and Hasbro,” published in September—Miller is a visiting fellow at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, where he is cofounder and director of the Story in the Public Square initiative, a partnership with The Providence Journal. Throughout his journalism career, public-service writing, especially about children’s and adult mental health, has remained his passion.

    The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy

    The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy is a think tank on the Salve Regina University campus in historic Newport, Rhode Island. Its programs on domestic and international issues are designed to generate new ideas, to expand public understanding of important issues and, ultimately, to help the public and its leaders make better decisions.

    Dedicated to honoring Sen. Claiborne Pell’s legacy, the center promotes American engagement in the world, effective government at home and civic participation by all Americans. We accomplish this through research and publications, public events and media programs that run throughout the year.

    Rhode Island PBS

    WSBE Rhode Island PBS is a community licensee operated by the Rhode Island PBS Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. WSBE Rhode Island PBS is a viewer-supported member of the PBS network of public broadcasting stations, and uses the power of noncommercial media to educate, engage, enrich, inspire, and entertain viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern Connecticut since 1967. WSBE-TV delivers content on two channels: Rhode Island PBS (digital 36.1), and Learn (digital 36.2). For more information about programs and education services at WSBE, visit www.ripbs.org.

    The Providence Journal

    First published in 1829, The Providence Journal is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the United States. The Journal, a GateHouse Media property with headquarters in downtown Providence, has won four Pulitzer Prizes.

  • Pell Center Hosts Election Security Summit

    Newport, R.I. – The Pell Center hosted the second election security summit for Rhode Island (RI) Secretary of the State Nellie Gorbea on Friday, October 25th.  The event featured expert speakers from the RI Board of Elections, National Guard, RI State Police, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  RI Congressman Jim Langevin, Pell Center’s Executive Director Jim Ludes and Senior Fellow for Cyber Leadership Francesca Spidalieri also addressed state election officials, covering global and domestic cybersecurity threats to the U.S. elections and democratic processes. 

    In her address, Secretary Gorbea highlighted Rhode Island’s commitment to keeping elections secure and accurate, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between state, local, and federal officials to do so.  Diane Mederos of the Rhode Island Board of Elections said that “over 160 million votes are expected to be cast in 2020,” and Rhode Island’s small size is its strength regarding election security. 

    Executive Director Jim Ludes spoke about global threats concerning U.S. elections and Western democracy.  He discussed Russian interference, noting Russia’s historical efforts to exploit existing internal weaknesses in the U.S.  Ludes said Russia has “raised doubts about the integrity of American democracy and seeks to diminish the appeal of Western liberalism.”  He added that Russia’s goal is to “attack reality itself,” and undermining the integrity of U.S. elections is a key strategy.  Ludes urged the audience to be vigilant as media consumers and participants, saying “be vigilant but don’t be afraid, don’t spread fear, and don’t act fearfully.”

    Senior Fellow Francesca Spidalieri followed Ludes’ keynote address, highlighting cybersecurity concerns to U.S. organizations as well as state and local municipalities, which are increasingly becoming victims of cyber attacks, from data breaches to ransomware attacks to compromise of voter registration databases and possibly voting machines.  When asked whether the vote could actually be hacked, she said “technically, it would be very difficult.  The electoral system is a decentralized system managed at the state and local levels and voting machines themselves are standalone systems that are not connected to the Internet.  Unlike state voter registration systems that were probed in at least 21 states in 2016, the actual voting machines would be much harder to hack remotely or at the polls.”  Elections, however, can still be manipulated through other cyber means such as injecting malicious software in individual voting machines during updates, manipulating other weak points in the system, or directly exploiting a vulnerability in the machine’s software to change the way that votes are counted or tabulated.  She added, “although hacking the vote would be difficult, even one case of tampering or manipulation on Election Day can undermine confidence in the election.”  Spidalieri emphasized the importance of being proactive by developing a risk-management strategy, adopting cyber hygiene best practices, and monitoring potential threats posed to the election system. 

    Congressman Jim Langevin addressed the audience following Spidalieri’s talk, emphasizing his continued zeal for cybersecurity measures to ensure the accuracy and security of elections and the protection of other critical infrastructures.  The summit concluded with off-the-record talks by members of the RI National Guard, RI State Police, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

  • Opium: How an Ancient Flower Shaped and Poisoned Our World with Dr. John Halpern and David Blistein

    Air Dates: November 4-10, 2019

    In 2017, opioid addiction claimed nearly 50,000 American lives—that’s as many Americans as were lost in the entire Vietnam War, and more than were lost to gun-shots and automobile accidents combined.  Dr. John Halpern and David Blistein explore the history of opium—from antiquity to the modern world—and describe a solution to the opioid crisis that blends an understanding of what works and what has failed, previously. 

    Halpern and Blistein are the coauthors of “Opium: How an Ancient Flower Shaped and Poisoned Our World,” which details the history of opium and its evolution to the opioid crisis that ravages our nation today.  Halpern is a private-practice psychiatrist who previously served as medical director of the Boston Center for Addiction Treatment, the largest substance-use disorder hospital in New England.  He completed his residency and fellowship in addiction research at Harvard Medical School programs and taught at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years. Blistein is the author of the award-winning PBS documentary “The Mayo Clinic: Faith–Hope–Science” and is currently writing a comprehensive, three-part series on brain disorders and mental health.  He co-wrote “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” and “The Gene” for PBS and authored “David’s Inferno,” which combines personal anecdotes with insights into the diagnosis and treatment of manic-depression.

    On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” co-host Jim Ludes asks what needs to happen in society to handle the opium crisis “once and for all.”  Blistein says the first step is decriminalizing addiction.  He likens addiction to common health conditions like heart disease, saying, “you don’t throw people in jail for having an illness.”  He emphasizes the need for ensuring insurance parity, where insurances cover behavioral health benefits, like addiction treatment, and physical health benefits equally.  Halpern says he sees progress with public policy on addiction, leaving him hopeful that positive change will be a trend. 

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

  • Pell Center Hosts Half-Day Joint Cybersecurity Awareness Event

    Newport, R.I. – The Pell Center hosted a half-day Cybersecurity Conference in partnership with the RI State Police’s Joint Cyber Task Force, SENEDIA, and OSHEAN on the occasion of the 16th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCAM) on October 24, 2019.  The event covered some of the most pressing cyber threats affecting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and local governments and municipalities, the growing market for cybersecurity jobs, and the need to build a culture of cybersecurity across organizations.  The conference was a part of the Rhode Island Corporate Cybersecurity Initiative (RICCI), an ongoing effort designed to bring senior leaders across various industries together to discuss the most pressing cyber threats facing corporate and public sector leaders in the digital age, while promoting best practices to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and remediate cyber incidents. 

    Pell Center Senior Fellow and head of the Pell Center’s Cyber Leadership Project, Francesca Spidalieri, moderated the discussion and contributed insights from her research and publications on the subject. Renown cybersecurity experts discussed some of the latest cyber threats including ransomware attacks, which are a significant and growing risk for SMBs, as well as municipal and state agencies, and covered best practices to minimize the spread of malware and mitigate damages.

    In his keynote address, Cybereason’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Israel Barak discussed the increased number of SMBs and municipalities across the United States that have become lucrative targets of ransomware attacks and the trend of increasing ransomware demands. He noted that the U.S. is now the third largest market for ransomware in the world.  Mr. Barak also explained the long-term consequences of a ransomware attack that are not alleviated by paying the ransom.  “Once an attacker is in your system, they have access to your credentials which can then be sold on the dark web.” Secondary breaches an also occur when attackers leave “backdoors” open that can later be used to re-infect the organization.  He emphasized the fact that disaster recovery measures do not necessarily ensure security resiliency and organizations need to have working backups to restore compromised systems.

    Matthew Wainwright, CISO for the Town of Middletown, R.I. followed Mr. Barak’s address, sharing his experience with cyber risk management and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve visibility into an organization’s network and automate detection of cyber threats.  Mr. Wainwright covered various measures to combat cyber threats, including AI systems that can produce real-time, active responses to in-progress attacks, while monitoring potential threats and generating reports using case-based reasoning.  He encouraged local governments to collaborate in combatting cyber threats by sharing funding and information to increase security and resilience.

    O’Shea Bowens, CEO and Founder of Null Hat Security, concluded Thursday’s session by sharing a personal perspective.  Mr. Bowens emphasized the importance of developing clear objectives, roles, and responsibilities when creating a cybersecurity risk mitigation plan and having an open relationship with IT staff, as they are “your best eyes on the ground [and] the best front-line defenders.”  He also encouraged cybersecurity professionals to maintain a constant connection with the community or organization they are responsible for protecting, as “people to people insight” is the first level of threat intelligence. 

    For more information on the Pell Center’s RICCI initiative, visit the RICCI webpage.

  • The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Immigration Act of 1924 with Daniel Okrent

    Air Dates: October 28-November 3, 2019

    In 1924, a new American law ended the wave of immigration to this country that had begun in the 19th century.  Hundreds of thousands of southern- and eastern-European immigrants had entered the United States each year before the law, but after 1924, those numbers were reduced to a trickle.  Daniel Okrent is the author of a remarkable history of the bigotry and sham science that lay at the heart of the Immigration Act of 1924. 

    Okrent is the prize-winning author of six books, including the recently published “The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law that Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants out of America.”  His book “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” was cited by the American Historical Association as the year’s best book on American history. “Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center” was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. Among his many jobs in publishing, he was corporate editor-at-large at Time Inc., and was the first public editor of the New York Times. Okrent also served on the board of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for 12 years, including a four-year term (2003-2007) as chairman, and remains a board member of the Skyscraper Museum and the Authors Guild.

    On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Okrent credits inspiration for the title of his book, “The Guarded Gate,” to the Thomas Bailey Aldrich poem, “Unguarded Gates.” He notes the poem’s use by 20th-century anti-immigration activists, as it gave voice to their belief that the gates in America were unguarded. Okrent says his book “is about how they came to be guarded.”

    “Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.